The Baptist Church of Jesus Christ at Great Crossings, Scott county, Ky., was organized on Saturday and Sunday, May 28 and 29, 1785, seven years before Kentucky was admitted into the Union as a State, while it was yet a part of Fincastle county, Va. All the surrounding country, now so beautiful and yielding so productively to the hand of industry, was a dense forest, frequently threaded [treaded] by wild beasts and savages, with here and there a small clearing made by some settler. So wild and uncivilized was the country, that, when the inhabitants went about their accustomed business, or even when they met to hear the preaching of the gospel, they were obliged to take with them their trusty rifles as a protection against lurking savages. It was twelve years after Daniel Boone first came to Kentucky to live, and nine years after Wm. Hickman preached the first Baptist sermon (if not the first of any kind) ever preached in our State, under a tree at the big spring in Harrodsburg.
It was the second or third church organized north of the Kentucky river, and about the sixth or seventh in the State. Lewis Craig, a preacher who had suffered from religious persecution in Virginia, early determined to remove to Kentucky; and so great was his popularity, that a great part of his church in Spottsylvania, Va., determined to come with him, They were organized into a church before starting, and were a traveling church through the wilds of the trackless wilderness, stopping on Saturday, their regular church-meeting day, to transact business, and have preaching on Sunday.
They settled on Gilbert's Creek, south of Kentucky river, and were a church there. After a while Lewis Craig, with a number of others, left Gilbert's Creek, and moved to South Elkhorn, now Slickaway, Fayette county, and established a church there. This was about 1783, or, as some say, later. In the year 1785 Clear Creek and Great Crossings, (then known as Big Crossings) were constituted; but which first is not certainly known. Some authorities say one and others the other. On the 28th and 29th of May, 1785, (as mentioned above) sixteen men and women met, as we have been informed, in an upper room in the house not far from our meeting-house, formerly owned by Gen. Wm. Johnson, and gave themselves to each other and to God, as a church. The record of this meeting is as follows, viz:"At a church meeting held at the Big Crossing, on Saturday and Sunday, the 28th and 29th of May, 1785, present, brethren Lewis Craig, John Taylor, Richard Young, Samuel Deadmon, as helps called for, who proceeded to constitute the following members into a church, to be called the church at the Great Crossing, when the Philadelphia confession of faith was adopted: Wm. Cave, James Suggett, Sr., Robert Johnson, Thomas Ficklin, John Suggett, Julius Gibbs, Robert Bradley, Bartlett Collins, Jemima Johnson, Susanna Cave, Sarah Shipp, Caty Herndon (or Bohannon), Jane Herndon, Hannah Bradley, Betsey Leeman. Betsey Collins."This record is not taken from the church book extending back to the time of constitution; because the records of the church, prior to the latter part of 1793, have been lost. But it is taken from the second of four volumes of records in the possession of the writer of this, as clerk of the church,
and is embodied in the report of a committee, consisting of James Johnson, "William Suggett, Thos. Henderson, John Campbell, and Ben Taylor, two of whom, Wm. Suggett, and James Johnson, were the moderator and clerk, appointed to copy it in said Vol. II., from the original first church book. The other three volumes contain the same record with some verbal alterations, which are insignificant. Of these sixteen members, who were in the original constitution of this church, all died members of it, or were dismissed by letter, except one who was excluded and afterward restored, Wm. Cave, whose name heads the list, was a member of Lewis Craig's Gilbert Creek church, and was a preacher of the gospel. He was moderator of Elkhorn Association in 1788, and continued a member at Great Crossings until March, 1793, when he and his wife were dismissed by letter. Robert Johnson was the father of James Johnson, for a long time clerk of the church, and at one time a member of the Congress of the United States; of Col. Richard M. Johnson, once Vice-President of the United States; and of John T. Johnson, who afterward became so eminent among our brethren calling themselves "Christians" or "Disciples." The descendents [sic] of Robert Johnson, his grand children and great grand children, are too numerous and too well-known to need to be mentioned. He frequently acted as moderator of the church, and was an active member. John Suggett was a prominent man in the church, and was a deacon from June 1801, until May, 1810. He raised a large family, among whom were Wm. Suggett, so long moderator of the church, and James Suggett, a man of great prominence as a preacher during his time. His descendants are scat[t]ered over Kentucky and Missouri, and some of them are now members of this church. He died in December, 1834, the last survivor of those who constituted the church. One of the descendants of Julius Gibbs is now a member of this church, viz.: Bro. T. Harrison.
The Great Crossings Church was in the constitution of Elkhorn Association, June 22, 1785, and was represented by Wm. Cave and Bartlett Collins as messengers. As has been stated above, the records of the first eight years of the existence of the church have been lost, and we are obliged to rely upon what we can gather from others for that period. Elijah Craig removed to the neighborhood of Great Crossings Church during the first year of its existence, and became her first pastor. "Five years after its organization, in 1790," says Rev. A. C. Graves, in his sketch of Great Crossings Church, preliminary to his history of Stamping Ground Church, "Joseph Reding emigrated to Kentucky, and located near the Crossings Church." It has been said that he at once became the most popular preacher in Kentucky. Elijah Craig was still pastor of the Crossings Church, though he had lost much of his earlier zeal, power, and influence, due, no doubt, to his over-eager attention to some land speculations; for he was a man of large worldly possessions, which sometimes mislead preachers as well as others.
On the other hand Reding was not thus encumbered in his ministry, and seemed to be just the man wanted by the church at this time. He became the choice of a large majority of the church, and they determined to secure him as pastor.
His spirit soon led to a division of sentiment among the members, as well as to unpleasant feelings between Craig and Reding. Craig, with bold and incautious spirit, said hasty things against Reding, and was arraigned before the church for trial.
The party of Reding were resolved to exclude him at all hazards, without allowing him to defend himself or ask forgiveness. The church meeting was held at Robert Johnson's, in a small upper room crowded and packed to suffocation. Party spirit, confusion, loud talking, and everything except order and forbearance prevailed. A vote was demanded and Craig was excluded.
The Craig party met the week following and organized what they called the Crossings Church, and expelled the majority, including Reding, the newly-elected pastor. The majority met in their turn and excluded the minority. Here were two determined parties, each claiming to be the Crossings Church.
Order and peace was soon restored by both parties seeking the advice of judicious and disinterested brethren.
Craig was excluded January, 1791. A committee was appointed by Elkhorn Association, with Gov. James Garrard as chairman, who met at Great Crossings, September 7, 1791, to adjust this difficulty. The difficulty was settled, and Craig was a messenger to the Elkhorn Association in 1792; Craig and Reding both in 1793; and Craig in 1794. We have these facts from the minutes of Elkhorn Association. According to this Reding was pastor-elect at the close of 1790, but whether he or Elijah Craig served as pastor from that date until 1795 when Craig left the church, is unknown, though the indications are in favor of Reding. Elijah Craig was in the constitution of McConnell's Run Baptist Church on the fourth Sunday in September, 1795, together with others of the former Crossings members, all having left the Great Crossings Church. Thus ended the pastoral relations of the first pastor of Great Crossing Church.
The records of the time of his pastorate are meager, yet enough is known to indicate that, with the exception of the difficulty above mentioned, the church during that time was prosperous, and some were added to the membership. Elijah Craig was converted about 1764 - went to preaching soon afterward, and was successful in Virginia. He was confined in prison for preaching - once in Culpepper, and once in Orange. He came to Kentucky in 1786.
Speaking of him, Rev. John Taylor, in his "History of Ten Churches," says: "Elijah was considered the greatest preacher of the three, (i. e. the three brothers, Lewis, Joseph, and Elijah Craig) and in a very large association in Virginia, Elijah Craig was among the most popular for a number of years. His preaching was of the most solemn style, his appearance that of a man who had just come from the dead, of a delicate habit, thin visage, large eyes and mouth, of great readiness of speech, the sweet melody of his voice both in speaking and singing bore all down before it, and when his voice was extended, it was like the loud sound of a sweet trumpet. The great favor of his preaching commonly brought many tears from the hearers, and many, no doubt, turned to the Lord by his preaching. He moved to Kentucky at a later date than any of his brothers; his turn to speculation did him harm every way; he was not so great a peace-maker in the church as his brother Lewis, and that brought trouble on him, but from all his trouble he was relieved by death, when perhaps he did not much exceed sixty years of age, after serving in the ministry some forty years." He died in 1808.
Joseph Reding was the second pastor of Great Crossings Church, He commenced his labors, it appears, immediately after Elijah Craig left the pastorate, and continued as pastor until April, 1810. From 1795 to 1800 the church was in a cold condition, there being only six members added through experience and baptism. Instances of discipline were frequent. They insisted strongly upon correctness of Christian walk. Members were dealt with for fighting, swearing, drunkenness, speaking evil of a brother, gambling, buying lottery tickets, or managing lotteries, having connection with racing, dancing, or anything of that character. There is record of a brother having been excluded for allowing ''race-paths to be cleared out near his tavern." There is another case of this brother being advised to "pay nineteen bushels" of merchantable wheat to another brother on account of a contract, and still later the church insisted strongly on its members not even attending dancing picnics and barbecues, and in one case some of the leading men in the church were dealt with on account of attending a barbecue. And now, when church discipline is generally so loose in reference to the conduct of the members, it is refreshing to know that the records of the old Crossings Church show that her members have always been held to account for engaging in the evils above mentioned, and her policy still remains unchanged; and may it ever remain so. Not that now, or in later years, the church has insisted on going to such extremes in discipline as was sometimes done, in the period of which we are now treating. But in the main, her face, has ever been, and now is, set against that whole catalogue of evils which is doing so much to demoralize the Christian world.
In 1797, one brother Willson, was licensed to preach, being "allowed to exercise his gift in the bounds of this church." There is a record bearing date of February, 1798,which brings out a fact not now generally known, viz.: That, even at (that early day, the church had a regular subscription list, with the names of the members of the church and the amounts, which they were willing to give, affixed, for the support of the ministry, and also necessary uses of the church. The record is this, viz.: A list of the members' names to be given to the deacons, and for them to present it to the members, and for them to set down and pay whatever they may find free to do, "for the support of the ministry, and for necessary uses for the church." The idea with some, even of our own members, is that this is a modern invention. Not only was it done then, but it has been repeated at intervals, along through the history of the church since that time.
We come now to the "Great Revivals" of 1800 and 1801. "Throughout the whole country there waa a spiritual dearth in all the churches. The same sad and lamenting expressions are found in all contemporary writers. All the churches were in a state of languor throughout Kentucky, such as had never been seen before. Alarmed at the awful prospect, those faithful men of God went earnestly to a throne of grace in behalf of Zion."
At the Elkhorn Association, which met at Bryant's Station, in the year 1800, there were represented twenty-seven churches, whose territory extended from Tennessee to Dayton, Ohio. "Yet from all these churches there were reported to the Association that year only eighty-two conversions all told. That was about three conversions for each church."
In the year preceeding, 1799, it was even worse than that. The Association met at Great Crossings that year, and twenty-nine churches were represented, which reported only twenty-nine conversions, being one for each church! The latter part of the year 1800, and the whole of the year 1801, however, brought news never to be forgotten. Says a writer, speaking of that time: "It was during this year that the Great Revival prevailed, which wrought such wonderful changes in all the churches throughout the Mississippi Valley. All over Kentucky its wonderful and stirring power was felt in calling dead sinners to life, and slumbering Christians to renewed zeal. The great work seemed not to start up at a single point, and then gradually widen its sway, but it broke out here and there simultaneously like smoldering flames that could no longer be confined. At times the revival was rushed into wild extravagance, as witnessed in such exhibitions as the jerks, rolling und barking exercises, visions, and trances." Says Collins in his History of Kentucky: "The Baptists escaped almost entirely these extraordinary and disgraceful scenes, which extensively obtained among some other persuasions of those days. The work among the Baptists was deep, solemn and powerful; but comporting with that decency and order so emphatically enjoined in the Scriptures."
During this year nearly all the Baptist churches in Kentucky were reached and aroused by the awaking of the Great Revival. The churches throughout Elkhorn Association were aroused as never before, and never before did the cause of God seem to move forward with such overwhelming potency in the land. It seemed that the whole community was swept before the wonderful d isplays of Spiritual power.
At the meeting of Elkhorn Association at South Elkhorn Church, in 1801, there were reported from all of the churches 3,011 additions by experience and baptism! with an addition of nine churches to the Association. In 1802, 488 additions were reported and twelve churches were added, so that the Association, which in 1800 numbered twenty-seven churches, with 1,642 members, in 1802 numbered forty-eight churches and 5,310 members! Wonderful and mighty power of God! This was a glorious time for the old Crossings Church. Jos. Reding was still pastor. The revival commenced in this church in May, 1800, and continued during the remainder of that year and all of the year of 1801. During the year 1800, as has been ascertained through the records, 175 were added by experience and baptism, and during the year 1801, 186 were added in
the same way, making the granel total of 361 for these two years by conversions, besides a number by letter, though the reports to Elkhorn Association make the number 402. What a mighty upheaval was this throughout this whole community! Not only was it in this immediate vicinity, that this good work was done, but it extended to fifteen or twenty miles around, so that members were added to this church who lived as distant as Eagle Creek in the northern portion of this county.
So extensive and scattered had the membership become, that it became necessary to dismiss members to constitute new churches. As has already been mentioned, McConnell's Run Church, now Stamping Ground, was established on the fourth Sunday in September, 1795, with a portion of its members dismissed from Crossings Church.
On Saturday, February 7, 1801, leave was granted to twenty-seven members to constitute the church at Dry Run, Scott county, which is still in existence, and is one of our sister churches.
On the first Saturday in June, 1801, permission was granted to twenty members residing on Eagle Creek to constitute "Mountain Island" Church, and in January, 1802, a letter of dismission was granted to John Rease, who had besn licensed to preach by the Crossings Church in 1801, to take the pastoral care of it.
In September, 1801, the names of fourteen are recorded as constituting the church on North Elkhorn, and on the first Saturday in March 1805, permission was given to nine members to constitute the Long Lick Church.
During this Great Revival many were added to the church, who afterward were influential members, and occupied prominent positions not only in this church, but also in our denomination at large, and even as citizens in the community. They continued members with us in some cases until their death, and their children and grand children have been, and some are even now members of this church. First among these was James Suggett, who was received in May, 1800. (A notice of him will be given later in this history.) Then followed James Johnson on the first Friday, Sarah Suggett on the first Saturday, and Wm. Suggett on the first Sunday in September, 1800. These were followed later by Younger Pitts, Sr., Lucy Bradley, Lewis Nuckols, Presley Peak, Sally Suggett, John Bradley, Thomas Bradley, A. Bradley, Caty Suggett, Harry Branham, Spencer Peak, and Richard Johnson. There is probably not one in this list who is not represented by some descendant living to-day. Probably none of them were more prominent in the church, (though all of them were strong men and women) than Wm. Suggett and James Johnson.
Wm. Suggett was born in Virginia, April 13, 1778, and at an early age removed to Kentucky with his father, John Suggett, who was in the original constitution of this church. He united with the church, as has been stated above, on the first Sunday of September, 1800. He was appointed deacon on the first Saturday in June, 1811, and was elected moderator March 1, 1828, which two offices he filled until his death, which occurred on the 17th of December, 1861. He was elected joint moderator with John T. Johnson, theirs being the first instance in the records, of a regular elected moderator, other than the minister who generally acted, since the first constitution of the church, except James Suggett, Sr., who was elected moderator at the meeting in June, 1785, after the constitution. Thus we see that Wm. Suggett was moderator of the church for nearly thirty-three years, and deacon for more than fifty years. His life was one of great activity and usefulness as a church member and a Christian, as long as he was able to go from home. He took an active part in all the business affairs of the church, was generally at his post on meeting days, and shirked no duties. He was moderator of Elkhorn Association for twelve successive years, commencing with 1830 and closing with 1841, so far as the records show. The year 1833 is not recorded, but be was moderator both before and after that year. He died having been a member of Crossings Church sixty-one years, with the bright hope of Heaven before him.
James Johnson, the father of Gen. Wm. Johnson, R. M. Johnson, Jr., and L. L. Johnson, Esq., united with the Great Crossings Church on the first Friday
in September, 1800, two days before Wm. Suggett was chosen clerk, October of the same year, and continued to fill that office until October, 1825, when he resigned to enter the arena of politics, as Congressman from this district. He died during his term of office in 1826. He was prominent in the business affairs of the church, and was frequently put on important committees.
J. W. Bradley, who united with the church during the "Great Revival," was a leading member in the church during the time of the brethren mentioned above. He was a quiet, unassuming man, but an earnest reliable one, and always ready and punctual in the discharge of his duties as a church member. His name appears frequently in the business meetings of the church in his earlier days. But during the latter days of his life he was confined at home by affliction, and the church lost his services. He died July 11, 1867, the last survivor of that noble band of brethren and sisters residing in this vicinity, who united with the church during the Great Revival. Thus it happened that John Suggett was the last survivor of those who joined in the original constitution of Great Crossings church, and J. W. Bradley, Sr., his son-in-law, was the last survivor of those who united with the same church during the Great Revival.
We must now take up the period extending from 1801 to the close of the Reding's pastorate in 1810. Only eleven were added during that period by experience and baptism. The church adhered rigidly to its discipline, and also to its doctrines, as is evinced by numerous "queries" concerning points of belief. The church joined in a movement for the union of Elkhorn Association and South Kentucky Association, about the year 1801 or 1802, and sent Joseph Reding and John Rease as messengers to the convention for that purpose.
The Elkhorn Baptist Association met on the 2nd Saturday in August, 1806 at the the Crossings . Jos. Redding, Jas. Suggett, R. Johnson and J. Johnson were the messengers. The membership was 263. [added by Jim Duvall].
In March, 1810, a letter was received, addressed to the church by Jeremiah Vardeman, Jacob Creath, Ambrose Dudley and others, requesting the church to send messengers to meet the messengers of the other churches of Elkhorn Associations, to mutually agree to divide Elkhorn Association. The proposition was rejected; as was also one made at the same meeting that Great Crossings Church do not identify itself with any Association.
While there are many things recorded of the men of the church of those times which are praiseworthy, one thing noticeable is to be regretted, viz.: That during the period of which we are writing, and even later, although the church was strong in numbers and worldly goods, not more than $100, and most frequently only about $40 or $50 was paid to the pastor, and that only by thirty or forty of the members.
Joseph Reding, the second pastor of the church, was born in Fauquier county, Va., in 1750. In very early life he was left an orphan, and received but little education. From a wicked, outbreaking young man, he professed religion, and was baptized in 1771, and immediately began to preach. Possessing a strong voice and much zeal, he attracted notice wherever he went. In company with John Taylor, he spread a Saviour's love over a great portion of Northwestern Virginia. Having spent two years in preaching in his native State, he removed to South Carolina, and there remained preaching with much success until 1779. As has already been said, he emigrated to Kentucky, and settled near Great Crossings. He was pastor of the church, from the time Elijah Craig left the pastorate, until April, 1810, when he obtained a letter of dismission. In May, 1810, he was again called to the pastorate, but evidently did not accept, as the records show that James Suggett was pastor before the end of that year. He went with the brethren of Licking Association - Particular Baptist - and after a long and useful ministry, died in December, 1815.
We now return to the year 1810. In September of 1810 the church called James Suggett to preach twice a month, and to attend her monthly meetings. In the following month, October 1, Saturday, he was ordained to the gospel ministry, and entered at once upon his duties as pastor. Success seems to have attended upon his ministry from the beginning. By the close of the year 1810, fifteen were added to the church, having professed religion and been baptized. During the year 1811, twenty-five more were added, making forty, by the beginning
of the year 1812. Among this number were George Viley, Patsey Viley, Edgcomb Suggett, Gabriel Long, Kitty Long and Richard Quinn. Not only was the church now at peace within her own borders, but in August 1811, she directed her messengers to avoid an old dispute in Elkhorn Association. Indeed her policy, before and after this period, was to avoid, as far as possible, the dissensions and differences which agitated and distracted the denomination throughout the State.
In 1811 there is a curious record, viz.: That James Hammon, John I. Johnson, and James Johnson were appointed clerks to raise tunes for divine worship.
From January 1812 to January 1818, not much of special interest occurred in the history of the church. Twenty-four, during that period, were added by experience and baptism. The church had the pastoral labors of James Suggett, together with Thomas Henderson, to preach on the third Sunday, during a considerable portion of the time. In March, 1814, Thomas Waggoner, one of the members, was invited to exercise his gift in exhortation and prayer. In December, 1817, a committee was appointed to raise funds for the purpose of building a meeting-house, which house was completed in 1825, and is the one now occupied. The year 1818 was marked as one in which the Lord again blessed the church hy a great outpouring of his spirit in the conversion of sinners. Ninety-seven were added during that year, and among the number were Reuben Long and Jordon Peak. During 1819, forty-six were received.
From the beginning of 1820 to the close of the pastoral relations of James Suggett in the early part of 1825, nothing of especial interest occurred. Eighteen professed conversion and were added to the church. Among this number were John T. Johnson, Asa Payne, and Simeon Branham.
James Suggett, the third pastor of Great Crossings Church, was the oldest son of John Suggett, one of the members mentioned as being in the original constitution. He was born May 2, 1775. He professed conversion during the Great Revival in 1800, and united with the church at Great Crossings in May of that year, four years before his brother, Wm. Suggett. He soon exhibited evidence of his power and fitness for the ministry, and on the 31st of October, 1800, was allowed to exercise his gift. On the first Saturday in July he was licensed to "preach the gospel;" and although his ordination had been called for at North Fork as early as 1802, from some unexplained cause, he was not ordained until October, 1810, at the call of McConnell's Run (now Stamping Ground) Church. He forthwith assumed the pastorate of McConnell's Run and Great Crossings churches, and, except a short while during the war of 1812, continued in that relation with the latter until September, 1825, when he was dismissed by letter to remove to Missouri. He preached for McConnell's Run Church about three years, and, "by his labors, the church was put in better condition than he found it. There were frequent additions, besides other tokens of prosperity." He preached at Clear Creek in 1824-25 - and, in fact, he preached with great power and force during the earlier years of his ministry, throughout this portion of Kentucky, and under his preaching many were added to the church. One particular characteristic of his labors was that sinners seemed to be converted all along during their continuance, as well out of as in great revival seasons, though not so numerous. At least this was true of his labors at Great Crossings. John Taylor once said of him:"When I see Suggett in the pulpit, I think he never ought to go out of it; and when I see him out of the pulpit, I think he ought never to go into it." Out of the pulpit he would keep the company in a roar of laughter over his anecdotes. In the pulpit he was a man of wonderful impulse, and excelled almost anyone at exhortation. Upon his determination to leave Kentucky, a committee was appointed by Great Crossings Church to induce him to remain, but to no purpose. He removed to Missouri where he died.
Jacob Creath, Jr., succeeded James Suggett as pastor in January, 1826, but only continued in that relation until September of the same year. Thos. Henderson was chosen to preach on the third Sunday.
On January 21, 1826, the same day on which Jacob Creath, Jr., was chosen pastor, John T. Johnson was requested "to exercise his gifts in this church, whenever he should think proper."
On Saturday, March 4, 1826, there appears the first record of the purpose of the church to hold public religious service on Saturday, church-meeting day. It appears, that previous to this time, that day had been employed in attending to business of various kinds. Four were received for baptism in 1826; among them was Polly Nuckols.
We come now to the time which is an era ever memorable in the history of Great Crossings Church. It is of peculiar interest to us to-day, because it was the time in which the oldest living members of our church were brought to the blessed Saviour; and with them many others dear to both them and us, who, blessed be God, are now in the church triumphant above. A few of this era are still lingering on the shores of time, awaiting the summons of the Master to call them home. They still cheer us with their counsel, and give us the benefit of their ripened experience and wisdom, and we look to them with love and reverence.
On the first Saturday in January, 1827, Silas M. Noel was chosen pastor of this church. Thos. Henderson having refused to serve on the third Sunday, John T. Johnson was invited to attend on that day and exercise his gift in prayer and exhortation. During the year 1827, twenty-one were received after baptism; among them were sisters Susan Branham and Maria Brooking, on the first Saturday in January, and on October 6, James Mason, in reference to whom is given the following record, viz.: " said to be one hundred and one years old!" - there was also received one Choctaw Indian.
We come now to the year 1828, one of the greatest revival interest ever known in the Great Crossings Church, not even the Great Revival of 1800 and 1801 being excepted. There lacked only two of being as many converts in 1828 as in 1800 and 1801 taken together, according to the church books. During the two last mentioned years, 361 were added, while in 1828 alone 359 professed conversion, and were added to the church. Rev. R. T. Dillard assisted the paslor, and did most of the preaching, though other brethren, Revs. Thos. Henderson, John Bryan, and J. D. Black, preached at different times. The writer of the history had a conversation lately concerning this great work of grace, with Rev. R. T. Dillard, who is the only surviving minister of those already mentioned, and from him learned some particulars. Bro. Dillard says that a table was placed in the sink just south of the meeting-house for him to stand on while preaching, the crowds being so great that the house would not near hold them - that while he was preaching the people would sit on the grass on the hill-sides around in great numbers, giving earnest and close attention, while the pastor, Rev. S. M. Noel, would be in the house, with crowded aisles and benches, hearing experiences related - that the people would come, not only from this county, but also from the counties adjoining, and stay with the members near at hand, for days together, leaving their homes and worldly matters to attend to the preaching of the gospel. The writer asked what was the secret of such wonderful results. He replied that nothing except the plain and earnest preaching of the gospel, under the power and influence of the Spirit of God. Nineteen were received prior to April 10, when the revival commenced in earnest. At that time meetings were held not only at the meeting-house, but also at the private houses of members in the neighborhood, for instance, on Friday night, April 10, at the house of Wm. Suggett, five were received, among them were Win. Craig, afterwards a minister and preacher for this church. And on the next day, Saturday, at the church, four were received, and among the number was Ann Eliza Bradley (now Peak). And thus they were added - four, five, six, or a dozen or more at a time every few days - sometimes at the meeting-house and sometimes at private houses - until December 21, near the close of the year, aggregating, during the year 1828, 359! In 1830, a membership of 588 was reported to Elkhorn Association, more than at any other time. Grand and glorious were those
times, whereof even we of this time should be glad. It may be interesting to mention the names ot some, well-known to, and beloved by us of to-day, who united with the church during that period. On April 19, Lucy Ann Bradley, Amanda Bradley, (now Offutt) and Janette Suggett; April 12, Polly Suggett; April 20, those who had made a profession of religion, to that date fifty-one in number, were baptized; in the latter part of April. Nicholas Long; May 1, Francis Ann Harrison, Newton Craig, and Franklin Kenney: May 3, Cyrene Williams and Lucy Craig; May 4, Thos. Harrison and Thos. Turner, and on the same day fifty-nine who had been received since April 20, were baptized; May 18, Mary A. Long, Beverly Branham, and Patsey Branham, and on the same day forty-six were baptized; June 1, Wm. Johnson; June 8, fifty were baptized, received since last meeting; July 4, James Duncan and Lemyra Duncan (afterward Roberts); July 5, Ann Eliza Nuckols (afterward Peak); July 6, fifty-three were baptized; August 3, fifty-two were baptized; September 7, twenty-four were baptized; October 9, ten were baptized; November 16, thirteen were baptized, until at the close of the revival, December 21, 359 had been added to the church after baptism. Among this number were not only whites and blacks, but also seventeen Indians, from Choctaw Academy at Blue Spring. On December 7, one of these Indians, Sampson Birch, was ordained to the ministry, and another, Robert Jones, was encouraged to exercise his gift preparatory to license. It may be well to insert here the church record in regard to these red men, viz.: "The committee appointed on yesterday, (Saturday, December 6, 1828) to take into consideration the propriety of ordaining Bro. Sampson Birch to the ministry, and for examining the qualifications of Bro. Robert Jones, also for the ministry, this day (December 7, 1828) reported that they had performed that duty and had unanimously agreed that Bro. Sampson Birch ought to be ordained, and that Bro. Robt. Jones ought to be encouraged by the church to exercise a public gift preparatory for a license; which report was unanimously adopted and agreed to by the church, and the ordination of Bro. Sampson was directed to take place on to-day by the ministering brethren present; and accordingly Bro. R. T. Dillard preached a sermon from Acts, 8th chap., 5th verse: 'Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them;' and Bro. Noel delivered to our dear brother, Sampson Birch, an animated and feeling charge. Bro. John Taylor followed in some general remarks; and Bro. Sampson, together with the ministering brethren kneeled down, viz.: S. M. Noel, Charles Johnson, John Taylor, R. T. Dillard, and Jos. Taylor, who constituted the Presbytery, (and their brethren) ordained our dear brother of the forest by the imposition of hands and prayers offered by Bro. John Taylor and Bro. Charles Johnson."
Thus we have come to the close of the precious season of grace of 1828. Not only did this make an era in the history of the church by greatly increasing its numbers and spirituality, but also in the introduction of many new members, young, strong and vigorous men and women, who were soon destined to take the places in church affairs of the older brethren and sisters, now rapidly passing away, and whose impress has been strongly felt all through our church history since that time. The names of those familiar to us have been mentioned above, most of them gone, a few of them lingering still - all of them, whether living or dead, loved and cherished by those who knew them. God grant that our church may see another such time as this, when many, very many, shall hear His stately stoppings and respond joyously to His call.
The year 1829 opened with the church calling Silas M. Noel again as pastor. The chief item of interest, as a matter of history, which transpired during this year, was that Pleasant Green Church was constituted in July, near the residence of W. B. Galloway, Esq., with twenty members from Great Crossings Church. Thos. Henderson, so long the preacher of the church on the third Sunday in each month, was among the number. Nineteen were received after baptism during that year. During years 1830, 1831, and 1832, the church was disturbed somewhat in its peace and harmony, by the acceptance of some of her members of the doctrines of what is known in the history of those times as "the Current Reformation" - the doctrines now held by our brethren calling themselves
"Christians," or "Disciples." As we learn, however, only sixteen of the members embraced those doctrines, and left the church; but among that number were three valuable members, viz.: John T. Johnson, a licensed minister, though not ordained - he was one of the moderators of the church; Wm. Johnson and B. S. Chambers, clerk of the church. The church in her conduct with those departing brethren, seems to have acted very prudently and dispassionately, and hence escaped the shipwreck which some of the neighboring churches suffered. S. M. Noel was pastor during these three years, and twelve were received after baptism.
During the year 1833 the church was unsettled as to a pastor. On January 5, Eld. Thos. P. Dudley, now pastor of the Particular Baptist Church, in Georgetown, was called, but declined, and in February, John Bryce, was called for third Sunday. On July 6, Silas M. Noel was called, and on the first Saturday in October, S. M. Noel was called for the first, and A. Lewis for the third Sunday, but it does not appear whether they accepted or declined. Twenty were received during the year, among them was Younger E. Pitts, afterward pastor of the church. This closed the relations of S. M. Noel, the fifth pastor, with the church.
Silas M. Noel was born near Richmond, Va., August 13, 1783. His father gave him an English education, but he educated himself in the classical languages, after which he studied law. He removed to Frankfort, Ky., and commenced the practice of law, and continued in the practice until he was appointed judge by Gov. Slaughter. Soon after he came to Kentucky he joined the church under the preaching of Wm. Hickman. In a short time after his conversion, he was called to the ministry, and took charge of Big Spring Church, Woodford county. In speaking of this church, Eld. John Taylor says: "The first preacher I knew of in this church was Silas M. Noel; there I think he was ordained as their pastor, when only a young preacher." Says the same author: "After he had been ordained several years, he laid aside his gospel ministry for a year or two of the honors of this world," referring, doubtless, to his serving as Circuit Judge for two years. According to the same author: "He came forward again as a preacher, with more zeal, consistency, and apparent stability than at any time in his life before." Soon after this, in January, 1827, he was chosen pastor of Great Crossings Church. Speaking of him about this time, John Taylor, says: "Silas M. Noel is now a great traveler, and one of the best preachers the Baptists have in Kentucky.
* * *
For about three years past I suppose he has baptized more people than any other man in Kentucky. His labors seem blest whatever direction he takes. The conversion of sinners to the Lord seems to be the greatest object of his address. Repentance and faith, or faith and repentance, connected with a godly life is the main drift of his discourses, with profuse invitations to every man to come to the supper; speculative trifles are barely found in his exhibitions. God bless the heavenly man, may he thus press on to the end. Mr. Noel's literary accomplishments, together with his zeal in the gospel, with his great success therein, has procured him the high appellation of D. D. The high powers at Lexington, authorized to make Doctors of Divinity, a year or two back, have saluted him with a flowing diploma. But it is pleasant to see that these high-flying trifles do not prevent his yet going into the thickets; or, according to his own term, while at his work, the highways and hedges, to invite the poor, the halt, the blind, and the lame, with every other soul, to seek the salvation of God," His success at Great Crossings has been seen, and needs no further comment. He was a member and President of the Board of Trustees of Georgetown College, was instrumental in obtaining the Paulding fund, and subscribed 5500 to the college endowment fund. His son writes: "He was called to Lexington Church in 1836, and remained there until his death. May 5, 1839."
The men of the church of this time were noble and true, and faithful to the interests of Zion; and by the staunch support, contributed much to the success of the church. Wm. Suggett, Asa Payne, Gabriel Long, Nicholas Long, Simeon Branham, Beverly Branham, Wm. Craig, Younger Pitts, and others that might be mentioned, were prominent and influential, some before and others after the period of which we are writing.
A. M. Lewis, the sixth pastor of Great Crossings Church, was called for the first Sunday in March, 1834. On the 5th of July following. Wm. Buck was called for the third Sunday, and both accepted. A. M. Lewis continued as pastor until the close of 1837, and during this period nine were received into the church after baptism.
A. M. Lewis came from Virginia, and was an uncle of Rev. G. Lewis, lately pastor of this church, and, while pastor here, was principal of a "Female Seminary" in Georgetown. Wm. Buck preached on the third Sunday during 1834 and 1835, and B. F. Kenney, who was received by letter in September 1835, during 1836, 1837, and 1838.
In February, 1838, James D. Black, the seventh pastor of Great Crossings Church, was called for the first Sunday. Rev. R. T. Dillard was invited to visit the church as often as convenient during this year.
On the first Saturday in May, N. Craig was requested to exercise publicly in church in prayer and exhortation. In October, 1834, a short summary of the faith and practices of the church was adopted.
Rev. J. D. Black was pastor of the church, the first time for four consecutive years, from the beginning of 1838 to the close of 1841. During that time, through the labors of this zealous man of God, the church passed through some precious seasons of grace, and many valuable members were added. During 1838, the first year of Bro. Black's pastorate, fifty-six were received after baptism; among them Lewis Nuckols. In 1839, twenty-nine were added; in 1840 thirty-eight were received, and among them some well-known to us to-day, viz.: At the commencement of , the revival, September 6, Ann Maria Martin (afterwards Peak); Monday, October 5, B. T. Quinn and Bennett Branham; Friday, October 9, Lewis H. Martin, Esther A. Martin (now Tomson), and Lucy Ann Quinn (now Branham); Saturday, November, 7, Nancy Samuells. and Sunday, November 8, Elleanora Offutt. The work of grace extended to December 20, resulting as stated above, in thirty-eight additions. During 1841 only six were received. B. F. Kenney, preached in connection with Bro. Black, on the third Sunday during 1838 and 1839.
In February, 1840, Wm. G. Craig and Y. B. Pitts, both at that time zealous young licentiates, were called to preach on third Sunday in each month. They had both been invited to exercise their gift in public in July, 1836, and were, at this time, both called by their own church. The ordination of both was called for forthwith, and Craig consented and accepted the call, but Pitts declined ordination for the present. Craig continued to preach on third Sunday alone during 1840 and 1841. J. D. Black and John Lucas constituted the Presbytery that ordained him. Pitts finally consented to be ordained, and his ordination occurred on Wednesday, November 17, 1841, with R. T. Dillard, B. F. Kenney, Wm. G. Craig, J. D. Black, Howard Malcom, and J. M. Frost, Sr., as Presbytery.
An item of interest which shows progress, is that in February, 1841, the church for the first time agreed to pay the pastor as much as $200. Pitts held a very successful meeting with the church afterwards, and, at its close, was called to the pastorate, but declined, and still later was called and accepted - but more of these things hereafter. During the period of his four years pastorate, as during and just after all periods of true revival seasons, the church enjoyed peace and harmony and prosperity in her borders, except that toward the close of 1841, several brethren and sisters left the church, (yet peacefully and in good fellowship) and joined our Particular Baptist brethren in Georgetown.
James D. Black, the seventh pastor of Great Crossings Church, was born in Virginia, June 24, 1794; came to Kentucky in 1807, and when about fifteen years old joined the church at Dry Run, and was baptized by Eld. Jos. Reding. He was ordained at Long Lick, Scott county, Ky. Very few men, who have preached among Kentucky Baptists, have labored more successfully than Eld. Black. His son, Dr. E. H. Black, of Frankfort, Ky., writes: "He kept no memorandum of the number he baptized; said, during his last illness, that he could
not think the number less than 5,000." In the Great Crossings Church he baptized about 200. Rev. A. C. Graves, in his History of Stamping Ground Church says: "James D. Black was pastor of Stamping Ground Church thirty years during that time he baptized into its fellowship over 1,000 persons. In addition to his labors at Stamping Ground, he preached at various other points at the same time. He carried on three revivals at the same time - at this church (Stamping Ground), Great Crossings, and Dry Run. In one of those years he baptized about 500. It has been said that many of the best members collected into the churches at Dry Run, North Fork, Great Crossings, Cane Run, and other points, were baptized by Father Black. In 1840 he was called on as the most suitable man to act as missionary in the bounds of Elkhorn Association. He served one year, and made the following report: "During the year your agent has attended twenty protracted meetings; 323 have been received at these meetings for baptism. He has baptized 264 himself, chiefly of the churches of his charge. He has preached 351 discourses, and has been engaged 121 days in actual service to the Association. No account has been kept of the number of miles traveled, or exhortations made." He preached for the following churches, (and probably more) in Kentucky, besides those he preached for in Missouri, viz.: Dry Run, Buck Run, Forks of Elkhorn, North Fork, Long Lick, Pleasant View, Caney, Hartwood, Silas, Paris, Georgetown, Great Crossings, Millersburg, Bryant's Station, Cane Run, Mt. Pleasant in Franklin county, Harmony, and Stamping Ground. And accomplished all this without the advantage of an education. His son, Dr. E. H. Black, again says: "Though he did not have the advantage of an education, he was the fast friend of education, and of an educated ministry. After he was forty years old, he went to school, and he and I were in the same grammar class. After he was fifty years old, with the aid of a Greek grammar and dictionary, he learned to read the New Testament in Greek." He died May 30, 1871, and his last words were, "Jesus, O my son, how precious!" His remains now rest at Stamping Ground, Ky., in a place directly beneath the spot where stood the pulpit of the old Stamping Ground Church, in which he preached so long.
On the first Saturday in December, 1841, Y. B. Pitts was called for the first, and Wm. G. Craig for the third Sunday in each month. Both accepted, and continued thus to act in conjunction, Pitts preaching on the first, and Craig on the third Sunday, until the close of 1840. They were both young and active, and members of Great Crossings Church, and it appears that this arrangement was made, that neither might be preferred by the church to the other; besides the church desired to have them both preach. On the first Saturday in January, 1842, Revs. J. D. Black and B. F. Kenney, who had formerly preached, and been so much beloved at Great Crossings, were invited to preach as often as they could.
In May of this year (1842) a committee was appointed to circulate a subscription among the members of the church for all who may think proper to contribute for the benefit of Georgetown College. Thus early was Georgetown College an object of interest and support to Great Crossings Church. Nay, earlier than this, in January, 1837, B. F. Kenney, at that time the third Sunday preacher, was recommended to the Faculty of the College as a suitable person to receive the benefit of the Pawling fund.
On the first Saturday in December, 1842, B. T. Quinn was requested to exercise his gift as a public speaker. He was afterwards ordained though not at this church, and has served a long ministry of usefulness and good, and is living now in the neighborhood of the church, loved and honored by all who know him. In August, 1843, Wm. Suggett, Wm. G. Craig, and Asa Smith were appointed to write a history of Great Crossings Church to be presented to Elkhorn Association, and it was thus presented.
Again in July, 1852, B. F. Kenney was requested to write a history of the church, and have it published in the Western Recorder. Whether this latter was done or not, has not been ascertained. Neither of these histories has been accessible to the writer of this.
On the first Saturday in September, 1844, Y. B. Pitts was relieved of his duty as pastor to act as Agent for Indian Missions during the month of October following, and B. T. Quinn was unanimously chosen to supply his place. Thus we see that as early as 1844, the church favored the system of missions as it did later, in 1846, when it voted that Y. R. Pitts "be made a life member of the Indian Mission Association by this church," and that Wm. G. Craig be "made a life member of the China Mission, with the funds recently collected here by Bro. Goodman, the agent of said mission." And it has ever been the firm friend of missions since that time, as has been shown by its sympathy and contributions. During the time that Pitts and Craig preached in conjunction, the church was strong in number of members, and enjoyed some seasons of revival grace. In 1842, eight had been received to the time of the meeting of the Elkhorn Association. From that time until 1843, 63 were added by experience and baptism, and the membership was reported at the Association to be 411. Among those received were Richard B. Quinn, Francis Branham, Elizabeth Bolson, Wm. Brooking, and James Jackson in 1842; Richard T. Branham and Vivian U. Brooking in 1843. At the Association in 1844, the church reported 412 members, and 8 additions after baptism.
Among those of 1844 were, Margaret Brooking, Levinia Brooking, Asa Branham, Susan Branham, and Serena Branbam. In 1845, 4 were received; in 1846 the membership was 392 and 1 received after baptism. The church was united and Pitts and Craig worked in harmony until the latter part of 1843. About this time strife sprung up between these two brethren. There was a Pitts party and a Craig party in the church. Reports prejudicial to the character of Craig went forth, and charges were made against Pitts. The matter was introduced into the church, and, on the first Saturday in February, 1847, a committee, consisting of James D. Black, B. F. Kenney, Joel Scott, and Moses Akin, was appointed to investigate the difficulty between them. After patient investigation, this committee made report on Thursday, February llth, 1847, which report is recorded in full on the minutes of the church, and it is not necessary to reproduce it here. Suffice it to say that both parties were exonerated from the charges made against them, and reconciled to each other. It was the opinion of the committee that this unhappy state of affairs had its origin "in misunderstandings, misrepresentations, evil surmising, a manifest inclination to listen to talking, to evil speaking, to busy-bodies in other men's matters." They add: "We fear that almost the whole church are more or less involved." They advised that neither party "serve the church as ministers of the gospel at the present time." Pitts thereupon resigned as pastor; Craig declined when the church called him in 1846. And though these two brethren were called twice afterward, once in February, 1848, to preach on first and third Sundays until June following, and again in November, 1849, to preach on 2d and 3d Sundays during 1850, it does not appear that either accepted. The time of the conversion, license, and ordination of each has been given above. They were both reared in this community. Y. R. Pitts was born in 1812 and reared in Kentucky. He left Kentucky some time after the times just mentioned and went to Missouri. He settled near Glasgow, Howard county. He was pastor successively at Glasgow, Fayette and Mt. Moria, in that state. He held a number of revival meetings and his labors were blessed. He took a lively interest in all of the general interests and work of the denomination in Missouri. Especially in holding up the Baptist institutions of learning. He, as agent, raised near $10,000 for Mt. Pleasant College at Huntsville. For a number of years he was a member of the board of Trustees for Wm. Jewel College. He had accepted an agency to continue and complete, as far as possible, the endowment of that institution at the time of his death. This occurred while he was attending the meeting of the General Association at Clinton, Henry county, Missouri, in 1871. He and his wife now sleep, side by side, in the cemetery at Huntsville, Missouri. Wm. G. Craig was born October 10, 1803, in this neighborhood where he lived and died. He was a son of Wm. Craig and grandson of Toliver Craig; a brother of Jos. and Elijah.
He was a man, true and warm-hearted in his affections, and had the confidence and esteem of his brethren wherever he was known. He preached chiefly in this part of the State. His death occurred September 8th, 1853.
Howard Malcom, Sr. then President of Georgetown College, was chosen as pastor in April, 1848, for the remainder of the year. He served as pastor during this and the following year, 1849. He labored under very unfavorable circumstances. The church was still divided in feeling on account of the Pitts and Craig trouble, though he was their choice as pastor. The bad feeling had not entirely died out, and it was not until near the close of 1849 that tie church was again a working unit. Although the membership of the church were in this condition, it seemed that toward the close of 1849 God's time for favoring Zion at this place had arrived. The Rev. J. D. Black had formerly been pastor of the church and was greatly beloved by the community, both in and out of the church. The writer of this has heard his mother, whom he trusts is now at rest in Heaven, say that she herself, (not then a member of the church, but who joined immediately after,) wrote a letter to Eld. Black, setting forth her feelings and earnestly entreating him to come and hold a meeting at Great Crossings. He consented to do so and came and commenced preaching, with some of the members hard in feeling towards each other. He attempted to reconcile these feelings, but failing to do so, he said that it was a shame for the old church members to do thus, while the lambs were standing bleating without the fold; - that they would just go ahead and have the meeting and leave these old hardened cases to themselves. Soon sinners were converted, these obstinate church members melted down and embraced each other, and the result was a gracious outpouring of God's spirit in the addition of 62 to the church; so that at the next meeting of the Association in 1850, they reported a membership of 401. The revival occurred between the September and October meetings, mostly in September 1849, and among those added were; R. A. Long, John N. Long, A. M. Bradley, Catharine E. Bradley, Geo. P. Peak, Presley L. Peak, Eleanor Samuells, Sopronia Suggett, (now Offutt), Cynthia Suggett, (now Duncan), Dudley P. Peak, James Wm. Craig, John Branham, J. H. Tomson, Samuel Moore, Mary Moore, and Almira Suggett, (now Brown.) Many of these are now living and make valuable church members wherever they are; others are at home in Heaven. Rev. Howard Malcom is too well known, and his career as a minister is too much a part of the denominational history of this country to require an extended notice at our hands. He came to Georgetown and assumed the Presidency of Georgetown College in its early history. After leaving the College he was president of several institutions north. He is now President of the American Baptist Historical Society, and lives in Philadelphia, Penn. He ranks among the foremost Theologians of the day, not only in our own denomination but in the whole religious world. The year 1850 opened with the church in an unsettled state as to a pastor. Rev. J. D. Black was called and declined; Rev. Lewis Alexander was called and declined; and finally, in October of that year, John L. Waller, who had been called in August, accepted and preached for the church during the remainder of that year and during the year 1857, but with no results in additions after baptism. In January 1852, J. L. Waller declined to preach any longer for the church, and Wm. F. Broaddus was called and accepted. He continued us pastor until November 1852, when he resigned, and December following, A. E. Macey was called. He preached for a year when C. Lewis was called and declined. It is unnecessary to give biographical sketches of John L. Waller and Wm. P. Broaddus. * The former was foremost among Kentucky Baptists at the time of his death, and to write a sketch of him would be but to copy what some one else has already written. The latter is now living in Virginia and his life has been principally spent in that State and constitutes a part of Virginia Baptist history. Of the life of A. E. Macey we know but little beyond that he was pastor of this church
* After this history was in type, the intelligence reached us that Rev. William F. Broaddus, D. D., died at his home in Fredericksburg, Va., September, 1876.
and afterward removed South where he died. From the Associational meeting in 1850 to that in 1854 there was but one addition to the church and that in 1853. In December 1853, Rev. D. R. Campbell. President of Georgetown College, was called and accepted the pastorate of Great Crossings church. He continued pastor until his death, August llth, 1865, nearly twelve years. When he entered upon the pastorate the church had a nominal membership of about 348, but was in a cold condition. Nothing of special interest occurred until August 22d, 1854, when a revival season commenced which lasted until September 2d which resulted in the addition of 54 as reported at the next meeting of the Association. The following are among the number: August 22d, Gab'l T. Long; August 25th, Clifton Branham and Mary A. Branham; August 26tb, John L. Peak, Madison A. Peak, and Lou A. Peak; August 27, Mary Moore, Leland Peak, Alvin U. Brooking, James S. Bradley, Milton N. Peak, A. Jackson Viley, M. Lou Viley, and Gertrude Thomasson; August 28th, Martha Hoove; August 29th, Milton C. Branham, J. W. Bradley, jr. and Lewis Nuekols; August 31st, Marv J. Rodgers. Dr. Campbell immediately went to work to utilize the material thus brought into the church, and the history of the church, from this time to the close of his connection with it, is noteworthy on account of the activity and zeal of its members, particularly in reference to objects of interest and the spread of the gospel. The church received a new impetus in this direction. In December 1854, four missionary committees were appointed, one each for Home Missions, Foreign Missions, Indian Missions, and Bible Cause, was appointed, whose duty it was to solicit subscriptions for those objects and report, one committee each quarter during the year. And these committees were continued during several years. In September 1855, T. H. Storts, then a student at Georgetown College, was called to preach on one Sunday in the month. In 1856 Dr. Campbell was away from the church a great deal, attending to raising the endowment for Georgetown College, and, at his snggestion, the church, in December called George Varden, then a student at Georgetown College, to preach on 3d Sunday in each month. In January 1858, Dr. Campbell, having completed the work of endowment which detained him from the church, resumed his labors twice a month. It may be well to notice here how much was contributed by Great Crossings church, and then by the Crossings congregation to this endowment.
The members of the church contributed $4,600; the members of the congregation contributed $7,165. New men now began to become prominent in the affairs of the church. Beverly Branham, N. Long, Wm. H. Martin and men of that class were then the older members of the church who had so long borne the burden and heat of the day; W. H. McDonald, Bennett Branham, and men of that class were the vigorous, active, younger members; and with these as leaders, Dr. Campbell commenced to work in those members who had recently joined; as, A. Jackson Viley, Milton N. Peak, Leland Peak, J. N. Long, E. A. Long, J. H. Tomson and others who might be mentioned, by appointing them on important committees, calling on them to lead in prayer, &c. By this means he had the church both old and young alive and at work, each feeling that it was his or her duty to be doing something. The church determined in 1860 to have meeting on every Sunday, and called D. R. Campbell for four Sundays and Y. R. Pitts for 5th Sunday when there were five Sundays in the month. With this exception, the church has always had meeting only twice a month, and occasionally on the 5th Sundays; and these two meetings, on the first and third Sundays, except in 1866 when Eld. C. Lewis was called, when it was changed so as not to conflict with his meetings at Providence church. The pastoral relations of D. R. Campbell closed with his death, August llth, 1865. This was the first instance of the death of a minister while pastor of Great Crossings church. Only one has occurred since, that of Rev. S. P. Hogan in February, 1871.
Elder D. E. Campbell was born in Perthshire, Scotland, August 14th, 1814. He was reared in the Presbyterian faith. He removed to England and was pastor in Nottingham, and afterwards Missionary in London. He became interested upon the subject of baptism and became an independent minister. He came to the United States in May 1842.
He witnessed baptism in the first Baptist church in Richmond, Va., and was so much impressed that he waited to see the pastor and was immersed on the following Sunday, by Dr. J. B. Jeter, now Senior Editor of Religious Herald. He traveled during the summer, visiting Virginia Associations and preaching. He was pastor of Leigh St. church in Richmond, Virginia for a short time, and then went South; was pastor of two country churches in Mississippi; - Vernon and Grand Duff. His health failing he came to Kentucky in August 1845. He was called to the Georgetown church in the fall of 1845, and labored there with great success for four years. The peculiarity about his labor's there was, that so many citizens, old and settled men, professed religion and became excellent church members.
He was then elected Professor of Hebrew and Biblical Literature in the Theological Seminary at Covington, Kentucky. While filling that position, he was pastor of the Newport church and acted as Missionary under the General Association. The Newport church was much revived under his labors and during one winter received about 80 additions.
He was Professor in the Seminary three years and was called to the Presidency of Georgetown College and accepted in 1852, and had only been President about 2 years when he was called as pastor of Great Crossings. While President of Georgetown College he was also pastor of Mt. Vernon church, Woodford county, and of East Hickman church, Fayette county. He died in Covington, Kentucky, August llth, 1865, greatly beloved by the members of this church. They gave expressions to this love in appropriate resolutions at his death, which are recorded on the church book. Ten were received, besides those already mentioned, as late as 1866. In September 1865, James D. Black was called to the pastorate for the remainder of the year. In December 1865, Elder C. Lewis was chosen as pastor and continued as such until January 1870. when he resigned to accept at Mt. Vernon, Woodford county. In March 1866, Rev. R. T. Dillard who was greatly beloved by the church, and had been called for the 5th Sunday several times before, was called for that day and accepted. Elder Lewis preached with much acceptance and was greatly beloved by the church; and it was with deep regret that they gave him up as pastor. At the meeting of the Association in 1866, 4 additions were reported; in 1867, 3; and in 1869, 4, among them Lydia and Sallie Viley. In December, 1869, the ministerial students at Georgetown College, were invited to preach on days not regular meeting days.
Rev. C. Lewis was horn in Virginia; - was educated at the University of Virginia; - afterwards studied medicine, but bis health failing he went to farming. He did not make a profession of religion until 1844, after he was married and had three children; and commenced to preach in 1845. He soon after served as a supply at Frankfort, for a short while; was called to Glenn's Creek and Versailles churches, Woodford county, and served them a number of years until the establishment of the church at Providence, of which he became pastor. He was called to a chair in the Theological Department at Georgetown, and while there was called to Great Crossings. Here he resigned iu January, 1870 and took charge of Mt. Vernon Church, of which he is now pastor ; as he is at the church at Providence. He is too widely known and too highly esteemed to need any encomium by the writer.
After the resignation of Elder Lewis, S. P. Hogan, then a student at Georgetown College, was invited to fill the pulpit pro tempore; which he did until the following April when he was called as pastor. He served the church with acceptance until his death which occurred Feb. 2d, 1871. During the short time he was pastor, he held a protracted meeting, assisted by Rev. L. H. Salin of Owen count}, which resulted in 9 additions to the church; - among them were Anna Peak, Kitty Hancock, M. Katie Bradley, Thos. Brown, David Brown, Cynthia Branham, Limiie Branham and Lee P. Viley. Upon his acceptance as pastor the meeting days were changed back to the first and third Sundays. Rev. S. P. Hogan was reared in Fayetts county and came to Georgetown College to study with a view to the ministry and graduated with high standing, in June, 1870.
It was while a student there that he was called to Great Crossings, his first pastorate. He was soon called to Stamping Ground Church, and while pastor of these two churches, he died. At the time of his death, he had but just married; had just entered upon his ministry, and was full of zeal and love for his Master's cause. For deep piety, whole-souled consecration, and enthusiastic devotion to his work, we have rarely seen him equalled. In the morning of life, with his heart all aglow with love for his fellow-men, he was called away to brighter realms on high. On the first Saturday in June, 1871, Rev. J. G. Bow, then a student for the ministry at Georgetown College, was called; he accepted and his ordination occurred at this church on the fourth Sunday in August following. Elds. H. McDonald, B. T. Quinn, J. B. Tharp, and J. D. Bohannan, composed the council that ordained him. He preached for the church until the first Saturday in January, 1873, when he resigned to accept the care of Midway Church for all of his time. He had, since the organization of Midway Church, been dividing his time between the two churches. In June, 1873, a number of members were dismissed to go into the constitution of a church at Midway, the seventh constituted from Great Crossings Church. Rev. J. G. Bow, came to Georgetown College, as a student for the ministry, from near Burksville, Ky. He graduated in June, 1874, having carried on his studies regularly and successfully, while pastor of two churches, preaching every Sunday for about a year; of one church for three years, preaching twice a month. He is now pastor at Harrodsburg, is young and full of zeal and devotion for his Master's work.
On Friday, Jan. 10th, Dr. B. Manly, Jr., our present beloved pastor, was called, the last but not the least by far; and he has served the church with great zeal and acceptance since that time. And I feel that I but represent the unanimous voice of this church and whole community, when I say that we earnestly hope that it may be a long time ere we undergo another change in our pastoral relations. One has joined by experience and baptism during his pastorate, Willa Viley, in May, 1874. He came from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in which he was Professor, to assume the Presidency of Georgetown College. We will leave it for future historians to write his biography, as his relations to us as a pastor have not ceased. The Great Crossings Church has been identified with Blkhorn Association since its organization, in June, 1785, and has never failed to be represented in its body, so far as the records show, except in 1791, when the church was divided on account of the Craig and Reding difficulty, 29 out of 96 of its members having withdrawn. The Association has met with this church eight times, in 1789, 1799, 1806, 1811, 1820, 1831, 1848, and 1867. Five of the members of this church have been Moderators of the Association, viz: Wm. Cave, in 1788; Joseph Reding, in 1806; Robt. Johnson, from 1807 to 1812, both inclusive; Wm. Suggett, from 1830 to 1841, inclusive, except 1832 of which there is no record; and Y. R. Pitts, from 1856 to 1859, inclusive; in all, 20 years out of 90 years of the existence of the Association. The names of the Deacons of the church, so far as recorded, are as follows:Name. When App. Name. When App. John Suggett June, 1801. Simeon Branham November, 1835. Wm. Shortridge June, 1801. Beverly Branham December, 1841. John Cogwell June, 1811. J. H. Thomson December, 1856. Wm. Suggett June, 1811. P. B. Hudson May, 1858. Simeon True August, 1828. W. H. McDonald August, 1860. Gabriel B. Long August, 1828. Bennett Branham August, 1860. Asa Payne August, 1828. Lewis Nuckols July, 1872. Nicholas Long November, 1835. G. T. Long July, 1872.
We will now notice the officers of the church - Moderators and Clerks. There is a record on one of the church books that in June, 1785, evidently the first meeting after the organization, James Suggett, Sr., was chosen Moderator. After this, it seems to have been the custom of the church that the pastor, or in
his absence, some brother, pro tern., should act as Moderator, until the year 1828 ; and many times since that the same thing has been done. But in 1828 Wm. Suggett and John T. Johnson were elected joint Moderators. Wm. Suggett continued as Moderator until his death ; and many years before that event he was unable to attend church meeting on account of sickness, which made it necessary to have a regular elected Moderator pro tern. This will explain why some of the list are marked "pro tem." The following is the list of regularly elected Moderators:Names. When Elected Names. When Elected. James Sugget, Sr June, 1785. Wm. McDonald (pro tem.), Nov., 1865. Wm. Suggett March, 1828. C. Lewis January, 1867. John T. Johnson March, 1828. S. P. Hogan September, 1870. Jno. Brashears (pro tern.), Jan., 1846. N. Long July, 1871. A. M. Bradley (pro tern.), Feb., 1850. M. N. Peak September, 1873. B. Branham (pro tern.) Jan., 1851.
N. Long was the only one of the Moderators mentioned above, who died while in office, of whom some notice has not been made. He was born in 1799, and was reared in this community; - made a profession of religion and united with the church at Great Crossings, in April or May, 1828, and was messenger elect at the time of his death ; and during these 37 years, he was messenger 32 times, the church having failed to send him only 5 times, viz: in 1838, 1839, 1840, 1842, 1852. He was elected deacon in November, 1838, and Moderator in July, 1871, and filled both offices at the time of his death. He was quiet and modest in his manner, but always firm and faithful in the discharge of his duty. He never missed attending his church meeting unless providentially hindered. He now rests with the many faithful ones who preceded him. Previous to the year 1800, it appears to have been the custom of the church to have no regular Clerk, but, for whoever acted as Moderator to keep a record of the meeting. From the year 1800 to the present time the Clerks have been regularly elected, and the list is as follows:
Names. When Elected. Names. When Elected. James Johnson October, 1800. Wm. H. Martin May, 1840. John T. Johnson October, 1825. Eichard Quinn July, 1843. B. S. Chambers March, 1827. Asa Payne September, 1844. Asa Payne March, 1831. Richard T. Branham Sept., 1845. A. Johnson April, 1832. Bennett Branham June, 1853. Asa Smith April, 1835. John W. Bradley, Jr April, 1861. T. Y. Pitts October, 1836. John N. Bradley October, 1865.
We have thus far noticed only the men of the church, except the names and dates of members joining. Shall we pass over in silence the sisters of the church, who have always helped us with their presence, their words of encouragement and their prayers. Though their voices have not been heard in the councils of the church, the silent influence of their Christian lives have done a great deal more than mere words. The men of this church have owed more of what they have been and what they have done to blessed Christian mothers, than to any other influence besides the grace of God. Those mothers in Israel, by their prayers and active co-operation, supported and strengthened their fathers, their husbands, their brothers, and their sons, while standing up valiantly for the cross. Their names are not frequently mentioned on the church books, and the names of many may have have been forgotten; but they have been enrolled in the Saints' Book of Life, and the blessed Jesus has not forgotten them; "They rest from their labors, and their works do follow them."
We will now sum up the results of this research. The church was constituted ninety years ago, the 28th and 29th of last May. Its first pastor, Elijah Craig, was twice imprisoned in Virginia for preaching the gospel; once in Culpepper, and once in Orange. After Craig, the church has enjoyed the preaching of Joseph Reding, James Suggett, Silas M. Noel, Thos. Henderson, A. M.
Lewis, James D. Black. B. F. Kenney, Y. R. Pitts, Wm. C. Buck, Wm. G. Craig, Ryland T. Dillard, Howard Malcom, John L. Waller, Wm. F. Broaddus, A. R. Macey, D. R. Campbell, Cad Lewis, S. P. Hogan, J. G. Bow and B. Manly, Jr., an array of preaching talent such as, we will venture to assert, no other church in Kentucky can claim. During this period about 1,500 have made profession of religion and been baptized, and afterward received into the fellowship of the church; besides others who have been received by letter and those in the original constitution of the church. There have been in this number white, black and red men. Seven churches have been constituted, chiefly of members leaving this church, viz.: Stamping Ground, Dry Run, Mountain Island, North Elkhorn, Long Lick, Pleasant Green, and Midway, four of which, Stamping Ground. Dry Run, Long Lick, and Midway, are sti1 in existence, so that the Great Crossings may well be called the "Mother of Churches." The church has sent out five ordained preachers, and licensed six others to exercise their gifts. We have wandered through the corridors of the past in the history of this old church, and have seen hung upon its walls faces both strange and familiar, many of the latter the dearest images that we cherish in our memories. We have seen there, those dearest of our kindred who have trod the journey before us, and are now landed safely on the other shore; those to whom it was a pleasure to serve Jesus while living, and a joy to claim him as theirs in death. Who now present in the community of this church, however thoughtless and careless they may be, do not rejoice in their hearts, that such Christian ancestors were given to them; and who does not feel like contributing to our grand memorial offering, as we know these dear loved ones would do if living. If this offering is, as we have heard, to celebrate the past hundred years of existence in the State, and is to be a memorial of our gratitude to God for his blessings to us, who in Kentucky have a prouder history than we, and who have more reason for gratitude to God for his many blessings to us? Then let us all do something in this movement worthy of our past history, worthy of ourselves, and above all, worthy of the cause of our blessed Master.
A history of the church written in 1979.
[From Elkhorn Baptist Association Minutes, 1876, pp. 17-35. The original document is in the office of the Elkhorn Association in Lexington, KY. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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